Selling Your Home: An HGTV Nightmare?
By Erica and Karen
We are both doing it. Selling homes we have lived in for a long time. And what a process it is. The decision to move in the first place is gut wrenching. We love our homes, our families love them too. But it is time for a change.
Once you have made the decision, though, the real drama starts. The first issue is when to put your home on the market. Does it matter when school is out and potential buyers are heading for the beach? What about holidays? Or distractions, like an election. Lots of unnerving debate about the optimal time, which apparently lasts about two weeks each year.
Then, you need a broker. Why? One, you can't possibly be objective. You need someone rational between you and the potential buyers. And two, they really are experts in marketing, and pricing. You are talking about the home you love, where you raised your children, which is obviously priceless. They see it as an asset. Pick your broker carefully. You will be spending a lot of time with her (or him).
Then, at your broker's insistence, you begin the decluttering process. You wish you had lived in a studio for the last twenty five years. But you didn't.
First you have to throw out junk. Then you have to hide anything that vaguely hints that you or your family are real people with distinctive tastes. Unless your home is now magazine worthy, that is not the end of it. You need a stager. You quickly learn that buyers all have a similar lack of imagination. They only like gray and white and maybe beige, and they can't imagine how your home would look, stripped of color. So, assuming the Property Brothers are not at your disposal, if you want to sell (and that's the point, isn't it?) you must pay vast sums of money to someone who makes your home looks like it is owned by some remarkably colorless but very tidy person who neither eats nor sleeps nor reads a newspaper. There is aways a white orchid, too.
It's an HGTV nightmare. We wonder whether home buying shows and the internet have made everyone want a home that looks the same as everyone else's. In the olden days it was fun (usually) to see what people did to personalize their homes. Wandering through cool places satisfied one's prurient interest. And there was a certain serendipity that is hard to replicate swiping through pictures of sanitized homes on the internet.
It's also weird to see your home on the internet. Is that really where you live? It is described as, and looks, perfect. Surely worth trillions. But those who troop through apparently see it differently. They turn up their noses, or offer half the price. After a day or two of this, your broker suggests you lower that price. Even thought it was definitely a fair price a couple of days ago. So you do, because you can't live forever being unnaturally neat, keeping windows clean and flowers fresh, refraining from cooking food with odors, and planning things to do on the weekend when you will not be allowed home.
And then--someone with eyes to see makes an offer. Yippee! You reach agreement, and then you wait again. All the while frantically looking for a rental, because of course you can't time things so your new place and your old place change hands simultaneously. There are some nice short term rental apartments out there, for fantastic monthly sums about the equal of your sales price. You will get one of the others. And you will put most of your clothes, and your furniture, and your cooking stuff, and everything else, in storage, until whenever you can take it all out again.
What possessed us to go down this road?
The desire to move forward. The thrill of change. Moving is an adventure, and we are both on our way. We applaud our tireless, and patient, brokers. We couldn't do it without them. And HGTV? Well, it is fun to watch when you are not part of it. We still are. But the end is in sight.